WASCO Management held an emergency meeting on Wednesday the 18th of March 2020, to sensitise employees on precautionary strategies the Company is to embark on in order to align itself with Government of Lesotho’s approach and clarion call, as well as the rest of the World on proactive measures to protect its employees against COVID-19 Pandemic.
In his address the Chief Executive Mr. Futho Hoohlo, strongly pointed out that the first step is cleanliness, and the only way to attain that is through reliable water supply to the customers as WASCO remain the only supplier of treated potable water. He also informed the employees that WASCO has established COVID-19 Rapid Response Team (WCRRT), responsible for dissemination of information and key messages on how everyone has to protect themselves against this pandemic as well as ensuring that employee’s needs are well taken care of, so that the Company could satisfactorily deliver on its mandate. “Every employee of this Company is at risk but let alone the front-line employees who have to interact with customers on a regular basis.” He assured them that the Company will give them full support by supplying them with the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and other recommended disinfecting materials for their protection.
He went on to emphasise that, it is at this juncture that WASCO is expected to do its utmost best since water is the only way to cleanliness and to washing hands as regularly as possible. On the other hand, the Republic of South African (RSA) statistics for confirmed Corona Virus infections seem to be rapidly increasing. This on its own, poses a threat on the Company since most water treatment chemicals and materials are supplied from RSA. Therefore, in order to stay alert, WASCO has to procure the sufficient stock pile that would last the company for the duration of at least four months (4) ahead.
Employees were also encouraged to align themselves with messages from the World Health Organization (WHO) and that of the Ministry of Health to avoid unverified messages from social networks. Prudent steps that employees are encouraged to take as protection against exposure are the following;
• Wash hands regularly;
• Maintain social distancing;
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth;
• Practice respiratory hygiene;
• Seek medical care early if one has fever, cough and difficulty breathing;
• Stay informed and follow advice given by health care provider.
However, undergoing testing is considered the most effective way to find those testing positive for the virus and ensuring they are quarantined immediately to slow the spread of the virus.
Subsequently, the WCRRT acted swiftly and demonstrated a high level of professionalism working through a coordinated approach thereby developing a Programme Execution Plan (PEP) which will address among others:
1. Staff awareness;
2. Stockpile of operations materials and PPE;
3. Communication and Risk Assessment Plans.
On the following days, March 19th, the Committee hit the ground running and commenced its sensitisation mandate by addressing employees in the Central Region centres namely; Teyateyaneng, Peka, Roma, Morija and Metolong. Similarly, the Southern Region centres Mafeteng, Mohale’s hoek and Quthing had their share of lesson on COVID-19 on Friday the 20th March. Soonest, the Committee will be in the Northern Region and will complete the exercise in the mountain areas in the week starting Monday 23rd March as the last group to sensitise.
It is in these sessions where WASCO employees showed their keen interest inquiring for more clarity and more information on the Pandemic. As a signal of appreciation and co-operation, employees request for the relevant protective and cleansing material and also made a number of recommendations to Management. The success of this programme could be alluded to the keen interest demonstrated by employee’s questions and their high attendance for the COVID-19 sessions.
This, in a nutshell, says that amongst the goals that this initiative will achieve is to make sure that all water and sewage treatment chemicals and the network infrastructure material are readily available. Second to that, all protective and disinfectants materials such as hand gloves, masks, sanitisers, soaps, and many more are to be provided. So far, the first batch of the protective clothing and disinfectants has been delivered and distributed in the said centres and employees were encouraged to use them sparingly.
The spirit of collaboration amid the Company employees to this far looks so high that one wishes it could forever stay as is, so as to defeat even other work challenges.